Amy and Kimberley Datnow were living in different countries when their father sadly passed away. They would talk on the phone about how a father-daughter relationship effects modern day dating. Which led them to make Daddy Issues.
Amy was living, as a journalist, in Israel and was inspired by the creativity that surrounded her. “There’s just so much going on creatively. It’s such an inspiring place because the majority of people are doing startups.”
Kimberley, on the other hand, was living in the US. Doing acting work on TV shows.
After the TV shows, she became “involved in the indie film world and helped out on set with a couple of friends’ productions and just absolutely loved the production element of it.” She enjoyed “being able to tell stories that I was really passionate about. And collaborate with people that were similar.”
The sisters soon realised that they had similar creative interests and decided to set up their own production company. “And that’s basically how this film started.”
Working with Family
“Working with your sister, you might think that we still have those roles from when we were younger. The good thing is that we do get on very well. And in terms of creative decisions, we never disagree on those. So even though we sometimes disagree, we always come around in the end. So it’s really nice working with family. I think more people should do it.”
Creating, from a place of truth
The sisters saved themselves “years on therapy bills” by making the film. “Our father had just passed away, so that was a springboard for the film. It’s something that we thought a lot of people could relate to. It’s really important to tell a story about children that are moving home because they can’t afford their rents. And parents may be regretting how they bring their children up, because there’s no sort of support or training of how to live as an adult.”
“This film brings together both sides of that coin. It’s like what your parents leave you with when they pass away and what effect that has on your life. It’s just like a really happy, uplifting film.”
They mainly got their cast “ from UCB: a comedy theatre that Amy Poehler set up, because we love that style on screen: it’s quite organic, and we let them ad-lib a lot. We did a table read, which we let everyone go off and have fun with their character. I think that created a really good feeling on screen. We did four takes and then we did the ‘see what happens’ take, and the director just allowed the artists to go off script a bit.”
“I think with comedy you need to have a good ensemble cast and really good dynamics. So we really tried to bring it to life in that way as well, and really get to the heart of the character.”
On finding their director, Laura Holliday. “We met her through people at UCB. We were interviewing quite a number of people and she just had the same love of our references, of the comedy that we were really into. And her colour palette and her sensibilities were really on point with what we wanted to create.”
And using DP Dylan Dugas. “We had this style in the film of static shots. I think there were only two shots that we actually had on a camera rig, and one of those was when we did the car scene, and he actually made a whole camera rig for the car. We saw some of Laura’s and his work together on a show reel and it looked really good. And they worked really well together, which is important.”
Would you take a different approach to producing, now that you have that experience? “I’d take more of a business approach to it.” They had to extend their timelines “because I had this idea of how long it would take, and then it was like literally doubling that.”
“It was mainly because we wanted to work with the best creatives and didn’t want to finish the film until we were really happy with the final product. We wanted to get it perfect. So we waited for the colourist and the sound guy.”
It was a collaborative process. “We wanted to write only stories that we’d heard that were true stories. I think I heard once in Sex and the City that they only have stories that someone in the writer’s room lived.” They adopted the same approach.
“Kimberley was involved collaboratively with the story, Laura was really helpful in developing the areas that we wanted to develop and my good friend, John Cox wanted to write something after my father passed away. So he penned something out, which was really good.”
They got a lot of creative insight from others. “We managed to come up with something that was shootable, on the budget, and also very collaborative. What we originally thought it might be, was definitely very different.”
Coping when things become overwhelming
Kimberley said “I think with any creative process you get to a point where you think this is a bad idea. This isn’t working and you have to push through that.”
And Amy weighed in, saying “As a creative, you never really know, what’s gonna work on screen. You have a pretty good idea, but sometimes it just doesn’t. Sometimes you can get into your head about things that don’t work but it’s important to know when to cut the fat.”
Kimberley agreed, saying “I think that’s one of the hallmarks of successful creatives and entrepreneurs is to be able to choose talent and people that you’re working with. I think Richard Branson says ‘Virgin would be nothing without the people that I work with’. And I think it’s the same in film. The longer you do it, the better ability you have to choose creatives that A. you’re going to work well with and actually be able to work with for that amount of time. And B. you know which ones are talented.”
“I think first and foremost, you have to really be able to have that magical fusion and connection with somebody. People on the same page with your vision. We work with people all the time, because when you find people that you work well with, it’s like magic.
For more from the fantastic Datnow sisters, have a listen to the full episode.